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Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Sheet Cake

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I found this recipe on Picky Palate and saved it for Thanksgiving, but wanted to give it a trial run beforehand.  I do crazy things like enter pumpkin bread into state fair competitions without ever having made the recipe before or since, but I try not to pull surprises on my family.  I can deal with not winning a ribbon, but I have a reputation to uphold when it comes to loved ones! ;)

I ended up making this for the CFC bake sale at work and my co-workers raved!  After sampling a piece myself, I had decided it wasn’t that exciting and I wasn’t going to bring it to Thanksgiving dinner at my in-law’s, but after all the raving, I gave it a second chance and tried another piece.  Maybe it was the power of suggestion, or maybe my palate just wasn’t ready to handle cake for breakfast when I tried the first piece, but I enjoyed the second piece so well that I’m now reconsidering this for turkey day.

The cake is very, extremely, uber moist, and the swirls of cinnamon filling are very complimentary to the pure pumpkin flavor.  The color is a very nice orange, which I liked, and the simple glaze is a perfect compliment, really finishing off the “cinnamon roll” feel of the cake.  The size of the cake makes it great for a big family gathering because it can easily be cut into 24 slices or more, whereas a normal layer cake would only be 16 pieces at best.  It’s nice to have a “small dessert” option after filling up on turkey and stuffing!  Or, let’s be honest, so you can enjoy more than one dessert. :)

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Sheet Cake

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Cake
1 (18.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk (I used water)
1 (3.4 oz) box vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin

Cinnamon filling
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a jelly roll pan with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine all cake ingredients in a large bowl and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly.  Mix the filling ingredients together, then drizzle mixture evenly over cake.  Take a knife and run it through to swirl the filling into the batter.

Bake cake for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through and remove. Mix glaze ingredients until creamy and smooth. Drizzle over warm cake then let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into squares.  Store covered until ready to serve, refrigerating if not serving within the next day.

Recipe source: Picky Palate

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Grandma’s Pie Crust Cookies

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Lacey, Mom, Me, Dad, and Grandma Davis, 1997

We all had a special someone or someone’s on our minds and hearts on Memorial Day and for me, that was my Grandma Davis, my paternal Grandmother.

Grandma and Grandpa Davis with their eight children. My Dad (front middle) was the surprise, born when Grandma was 45 and most of the other children were grown.

As a kid, I remember being annoyed when she telephoned because she would talk our ears off and at that age, I didn’t have the patience for it.  I remember listening to stories from her childhood while visiting her, often wishing I was outdoors playing instead.  I now wish I could do those years over and spend the time with her that she craved and that I long for now that it is too late.

Grandma (left) and a friend in 1961

I want to ask her what life was like during her childhood, during the Depression, and how she felt the first time she rode in a car.  (She was born in 1904.)  I want to hear more about the years when they had a farm and ranch in Nebraska and she cooked for all the ranch hands.  I vaguely recall a story she told me about stuffing mattresses with human hair, and now I burn with curiosity about it.  Was it hair from concentration camp victims during World War II?  Why was she stuffing mattresses with it?  I think I remember her saying that the government was letting poor people do it for free so they had something to sleep on.  Could this really be true?  At the time, all that really made an impression was the way she pronounced mattresses.  How sad, when obviously there was quite a compelling story there if I’d just had the interest to ask.

In Grandma Davis's arms the week of my birth, with Grandma Millner on my left and cousin Tammy on my right.

There were a few stories she told that did pique my interest, and they were usually the ones in which she was being ornery or rebellious.  I guess I held her up as a hero for these instances, like when she set her mother’s kitchen on fire as a child because she didn’t like the new curtains.  I thought that was brilliant, because I would have loved to take revenge on my mother for all manner of wrongs (mostly imagined) that she committed against me.  I also loved the story of how she punched her future husband when he tried to be a gentleman and pick her up and carry her over a puddle.  She was indignant because she was a self-sufficient woman that could walk over the puddle on her own two feet and didn’t need a man to show off for her in such a silly manner.  That really tickled me!  Or the story about when she punched him years later when she thought he was asleep, (apparently she had waited for this moment to punch him because he had made her mad!) and he bit her thumb when the punch landed.  Or the time when she found him gambling with his friends and started throwing rocks at them in a fury.

Meeting my Great-Grandma Gailey. Looks like we don't quite know what to make of each other! Grandma Davis, her daughter, is behind her and my Mom is holding me.

I guess my Grandma was a feisty lady!  But she also was incredibly loving.  She cried every time it was time for me and my sisters to go home and she loved having us stay with her.  Although I had no patience for her stories, I loved staying with her too because she let us watch all the TV we wanted, she always had tins of cookies and peanut butter crackers that I liked to sneak into, and I loved her cooking!  She made us things like pigs in blankets, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and let us have angel food cake with whipped cream for dessert.  This was AMAZING food to a child that frequently dined on baked fish, plain salads (dressing was a no-no), lentils, and tofu sandwiches on Ezekiel 7-grain bread.

Grandma's yard in the 80s. Can you find the wind catcher she made out of a 7-up bottle?

Here it is, as clear as I can get it. She used to make a lot of these.

One of the things Grandma Davis taught me was not to waste anything, and that almost everything can be put to use.  She made rugs out of empty plastic bread sacks.  She made quilts out of old jeans.  She took empty 2-liter pop bottles and turned them into hanging ornaments that caught the wind and turned on her front porch. She also taught me to make little cinnamon roll cookies with leftover pie dough, rather than throwing it away.

Photograph courtesy of Upscale Downhome. This is exactly how my grandma’s bread sack rugs looked!

Grandma made this blanket for us with old jeans. As for the identity of the naked child, I plead the fifth.

RE: Plastic Soda Bottle Wind Chimes

Photo source. My Grandma’s wind spinners were always made with 7-Up bottles and looked very similar to this, though she made smooth cuts instead of wavy.

I’m thankful for every story that I can still remember, and for this lesson in waste that she passed on.  Sure, it can get me into trouble, because I tend to hoard things (for starters, I have a sack full of clean, empty food jars in my basement, waiting for an opportunity to be useful), but when it comes to these cookies, I feel the lesson is a blessing!

These cookies are delicious and so simple to make.  Flaky, buttery pie pastry layered with cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and nuts makes for something nearly akin to a kicked up cinnamon roll, and I like to go ahead and drizzle a simple glaze over the top of mine since I keep the sugar on the inside pretty low.  It makes them even more like a cinnamon roll in appearance, which I like.

I think many Grandmas taught their grandchildren to make these cookies, though my Grandma’s way seems to be a little different from the other recipes I’ve seen online.  Those call for cinnamon and sugar only, but that’s not the way Grandma Davis rolled (if you’ll pardon the pun).  She sprinkled on the raisins and nuts too!  Maybe it’s only because it’s the way my Grandma made them, but it’s the way I like them best.

Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Leftover pie pastry (I recommend this recipe–it stays tender and flaky, even after gathering up the scraps, pressing together and re-rolling)
Sugar
Cinnamon
Raisins
Nuts
Powdered sugar & milk for optional glaze

Gather up your pie dough scraps and press together to form a new ball and flatten into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to use. If you aren’t making the cookies for a day or two, you’ll want to remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for half an hour to an hour so that it is soft enough to roll out.

Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, a silpat mat, or spray with cooking oil.

Roll out the leftover pie pastry on a floured surface.

Sprinkle sugar over the top.  This amount won’t make the cookies very sweet, but that’s OK if you plan on using a glaze.  If you’re skipping the glaze, you’ll probably want more sugar.

Sprinkle on the cinnamon!

You could stop there, but I like to add some raisins and nuts, because Grandma said so.  And Grandma knows best.

Roll into a tight log, like so:

I didn’t get any pictures of this because my hands were busy doing this step, but use a piece of waxed floss to cut 1/2″ cookies from the log. To do this, run the floss under the log, then cross the ends of the string over the top, and pull the ends in opposite directions until the string passes through and makes a cut. This will be messy and you’ll have nuts and raisins popping out which you can then pop back in before placing on prepared baking sheet. Some of the cookies will have to be rewrapped completely, especially those on the end that are smaller. Place all the cut cookies on the baking sheet.  I like to use parchment paper, but would like to get a silpat mat soon since it’s reusable.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Cool on a wire rack. I just slid the entire sheet of parchment paper off the cookie sheet and onto a cooling rack.  Handy dandy.

Once cool, you can make a glaze by mixing powdered sugar with a little milk until it is a drizzling consistency. I think I used like 1/2 a cup of powdered sugar and a teaspoon or two of milk. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the top.

If you aren’t serving these right away, let them sit out until the glaze hardens, then you can store them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Will keep for at least a week but they won’t last that long!

In loving memory of Alta Davis.  1904-2001

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies


Today’s “Cookie Monday” yields a special treat–Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies!!!!!  Wait, I think I need one more–! 

As soon as this recipe from Picky Palate hit my inbox, my heart started pounding.  As I scrolled through and the idea settled in, I knew I was a goner.  Photo by photo, I watched as Jenny started with a fabulous sugar cookie dough, spread butter over it (!), sprinkled brown sugar & cinnamon over that (!), rolled it up, sliced and baked it, then drizzled the cookies with cream cheese icing (!).  This is such a creative use of sugar cookie dough and I couldn’t resist the combination of cookies and cinnamon rolls. 

Seriously, I’m having trouble keeping my cool here.  The excitement that these cookies evoke in me makes me want to record a video of me screaming to convey it.   It’s not only the concept but the taste!!!  I’ve eaten over a dozen and if there were any left after Dennis took them to work, I’d be eating them right now.  It’s taking a serious effort not to just write 100 lines of “wheeeeee!” as the entire content of this post prior to the recipe.  Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!  Sorry, I couldn’t contain that one. 

You could use any sugar cookie dough to make these cookies, including store-bought, but I do recommend that you try Jenny’s recipe.  The dough makes a really excellent sugar cookie–my favorite so far.  I intend to use it for all my sugar cookie needs from now on, including, of course, cinnamon roll sugar cookies. :)

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies
recipe  by Jenny at Picky Palate

2 Cups sugar
1 Cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
(I added 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)
1 Cup sour cream
6 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons softened butter, (slice 2 Tablespoons 6 times totaling 12 tablespoons)
1 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar, divided into 1/4 Cups
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided

Frosting
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk, to thin icing

1. In an electric or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well combined. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined.

2. In 2 batches, place in plastic wrap in a disc shape and chill for at least 2 hours for best results.

3. Once chilled, cut each disc into thirds and roll into a 1/8 inch thick oval, about 12 inches X 5 inches on a floured surface. Spread each rolled pieces of dough with 2 Tablespoons softened butter, 1/4 Cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  (I forgot to soften my butter beforehand so I just slightly melted it in the microwave and mixed in the brown sugar and cinnamon, then spread it over the dough in a thin layer.)  Start rolling from the long end closest to you, rolling into a log shape. (I wrapped the logs in wax paper and refrigerated for another 2 hours at this point because they were too soft to cut and got all smooshed.) Using a sharp knife, cut 1/2 inch pieces of dough then placing onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.

4. To prepare frosting, beat the cream cheese until softened and smooth, slowly add powdered sugar and milk until desired consistency. Frost cookies then place in refrigerator until ready to serve. These are 100 times better chilled, trust me!!

Makes at least 6 dozen

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